Building a steady movie career over the last decade, Dwayne Johnson must be one of the most successful wrestlers-turned-actors ever. Where Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan have failed, he has succeeded. It helps he has slowly shifted away from the ‘hulking villain’ of earlier roles into more substantial ones. His films still aren’t high art but they have shown his determination to broaden his horizons. His latest aids in extending his shelf-life as a reliable leading man who has shown more talent than the wrestling ring allowed.
When his son is sent to jail after a drug raid, John (Dwayne Johnson) attempts to set him free. Contacted by Cooper (Barry Pepper), an agent leading an anti-drug taskforce, John is given a proposition. He has to immerse himself in the dangerous world of drug baron Carlos (Benjamin Bratt). Tasked with setting him up in a sting operation, John’s eagerness to see his son safe rises above the dangers he faces.
More drama than action movie ‘Snitch’ is a reasonably solid effort. Johnson equips himself well as a father willing to do anything for his family. He effectively conveys his character’s frustrations with the political red-tape and laws concerning drug traffickers. Ric Roman Waugh’s direction maintains a brisk pace although often at the expense of other characters. The almost sole concentration on the central character somewhat devalues the story’s impact with John’s family-life only minimally explored.
‘Snitch’ maintains a gritty atmosphere due to some striking cinematography. The unpleasant world in which John reluctantly involves himself is evoked with harsh tones and grimy tension. The standard of the mood isn’t quite matched by a script lacking the substance the material demands. The abrupt conclusion doesn’t help although the general intent is there. It’s a case of the ideas being sound but the execution faltering even if it maintains interest overall.
Dwayne Johnson should be pleased with his efforts with ‘Snitch’. Although not perfect it gives him a chance to do something different and is a more thoughtful project than the block-busters on which he has made his name.
Rating out of 10: 6
Emergency help-line operators sometimes need nerves of steel. Dealing with dangerous situations on a daily basis, their gift for accurate instant information is vital. No occurrence is the same which is something ‘The Call’ explores. Although still primarily a typical pop-corn thriller, it has substance. It also gives Halle Berry one of her best roles in a long time, with her luck in choosing dodgy roles hopefully changing.
Working as a 911 emergency operator, Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is prepared for any event. When receiving a call from a girl being attacked by a serial killer, Jordan’s skills are sorely tested. After a devastating outcome, her worst fears are realised when the killer strikes again. This time another girl, Casey (Abigail Breslin) pleads for help. Determined not to fail again, Jordan does her duty in attempting to save the life of someone in the face of deadly adversity.
Despite hanging its story on an increasingly absurd ‘psycho on the loose’ motif, ‘The Call’ has interesting moments. Most of them occur between Jordan and Casey who are forced to develop a close relationship. Helping each other overcome horrors from the past and present, both must craft a connection in order to escape their current dilemma. The two leads’ performances create believability even as events spiral out of control.
As the script moves away from Jordan’s determined heroine and onto the machinations of the killer, things go awry. The over-acting by Michael Eklund as the villain negates the authenticity the film initially achieves. The way his character eludes the police strains credibility to breaking point. These elements turn what could have been an arresting movie into a run of the mill yarn. By the conclusion it’s on auto-pilot with the various revelations laughable.
Although admirably revealing some aspects of what they go through, ‘The Call’ doesn’t quite give the respect help-line operators deserve. As mindless entertainment it works although its early promise hangs up as fast as a bad phone call.
Rating out of 10: 5